The Lakers have always made big splashes in free agency. From Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers made certain their location and prominence was used to its full potential. But, for every big signing, their was an equally important draft pick. For Kareem there was Magic, for Shaq there was Kobe. Without another team’s draft pick, or a player of sufficient caliber to acquire one, the best possible move right now for the future of this franchise after such an injury-ravaged start to the season is to tank. It may be hard, and it will certainly never be admitted, but it will be justified. Even ultra-competitor Kobe will sit back and say “thank you” after he sees just how talented the new piece can be.
I can hear it now. Newly appointed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announcing just how bright the future of the newer, younger Los Angeles Lakers will be. Clearly it was not the intent to tank. The Lakers were even in position to take the 8-seed earlier in the season. But, with injuries to nearly every key player on the team, there was nowhere to go. Let’s face it, tanking was inevitable and the Lakers have already walked through the gates of Tankville. Any stragglers who still thought that they would never, could never tank should have finally been swayed after the Pau-for-Bynum salary dump/trade rumor swirled in the media cycle this week.
The Lakers’ competition is no longer the best of the West or the beasts of the East. In the bizzaro-world of Tankville, the competition is dominated by the Eastern Conference. The East holds 7 of the worst 10 teams in the NBA. Four of their playoff teams even have losing records, although that may work to our advantage because they will be held out of the draft lottery. The new competition for the Lakers are the dominant and experienced tankers such as Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Sacramento Kings.
I know it’s hard to change, but rooting against the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder is no longer our job. Instead, we will root for the worst teams in the NBA, hoping they cost themselves some ping pong balls for the NBA Draft Lottery. Because the lottery is now our playoffs, the ball with the #1 on it our golden Larry O’Brien Trophy. Without Kobe, Nash, or anyone else on the roster capable of carrying a team, the Lakers are in a great position to compete for the #1 ball.
The Lakers are certainly not the WORST team in the NBA. With the lottery system, this is a good thing. The worst team in the NBA (by record) has won the 1st overall pick only 3 times since 1990. The 2nd-worst team has only won the 1st pick 5 times. Besides, in this draft, the prize does not mean that everyone else is hung out to dry. In this draft, any team in the top-10 has a chance to snag a potential franchise-changer.
It’s certainly a frustrating position to be in. Especially considering we have the strongest fan base according to TicketCity (see the infographic below.) But then again, if we can land one of those top spots, we could be looking at another potential dynasty.
So here we go, fellow Lakers fans. It’s time to support our team for the future, not just for our own petty pride. It’s just for one year. One year to increase our chances of winning for the next 10, to keep the legacy going of the biggest names in basketball being a member of The Los Angeles Lakers. So I ask you, Lakers fans, ARE YOU WITH ME?!?